Holland College Hurricanes top the UNB Red Bombers 15-10 to advance to the AFL Championship
In a game that came down to the last play, the Holland College Hurricanes defence stood tall and came away with a 15-10 victory.
The Red Bombers put up a competitive fight but the Holland College defence was too much for the Bombers to handle.
Confidence is riding high for head coach Ross Young and his team after a hard fought semi-final victory.
“Today we proved we can beat a great football team on the road.” said Young
Each team struggled to put points on the board on a wet night in Fredericton’s BMO Centre. The game was ruled by defence with both units limiting plays and forcing turnovers at an astounding rate.
After a scoreless first quarter in which neither team managed to get their offences going, the Hurricanes managed to opened the scoring in the second.
Less than two minutes into the second quarter of play, kicker Liam Carter drove a 36-yard field goal between the uprights to give his team the lead.
Minutes later, with the Hurricanes in the opponents red zone, running-back Van Bodden bounced to the outside and scrabbled for a seven-yard touchdown run. The first major score of the game was set up by a fake punt that resulted in a 23-yard run from the punter Carter.
The Hurricanes extra point was unsuccessful due to a handler fumble.
The Red Bombers quickly answered back with a score of their own. Bombers Quarterback Pat Mollins concluded a near three-minute drive with a 33-yard TD pass to receiver Mitch McCoy.
The teams went into half with the Hurricanes leading by two points.
The third quarter started with a third down defensive stop by the Hurricanes, which provided the road team with great field position to start their drive.
After the offence sputtered, the team salvaged the drive with a 33-yard field goal increasing the ‘Canes’ lead to 12 -7.
After yet another failed third down conversion from UNB, Holland College was able to kick another field goal, this one from 38-yards, to end the quarter on a high note.
Taking a 15-7 led into the final quarter of play, the Hurricanes’ needed 15 more minutes of solid play to advance to the final.
After a fumble by the Holland College QB Thomas Mackenzie on the opening play of the quarter, the Bombers offence began to show flashes of brilliance. Mollins got his team into the opponents red zone before confusion, stemming from a missed field goal, took over the field.
The initial kick from 24-yards out hit an upright and was unsuccessful, but with multiple flags on the play including an Holland College offside, the down was replayed and resulted in a field goal the trimmed the deficit to 15-10.
The UNB team that had resulted to multiple trick plays and third down conversions throughout the game did more of the same in crunch time. With four minutes remaining in the game the Red Bombers took possession of the ball and dictated the flow of the game to the closing seconds.
Needing a big play to extend their drive and the game, wide receiver Gallagher jumped behind centre and threw a deep ball down field which went incomplete but the Hurricanes defender was called for pass interference on the play, moving the chains.
As their opponents marched down field with seconds remaining in the game, the Hurricanes defence came up big. With four seconds remaining in the game defensive-back Max Malo came up with an interception on the one-yard line to end the game.
The coaching staff were overcome with excitement knowing that their team is playing for the league championship for the sixth straight season.
Coach Young told all of the players that he was very proud of them for their efforts, before stressing that their job is not done. With a game plan yet to be determined, Young does know one aspect that falls in his team’s favour.
“There is very little pressure on a young team like this.” said Young “This is even more evident when you bring into account that their opponents, the Dalhousie Tigers, finished the season undefeated and are looking to finish perfect.”
The next game for Holland College will be a rematch of last season’s championship final, against the Dalhousie Tigers. The game will take place 1 p.m., November 5, at WickWire Field in Halifax.